Monday, February 28, 2011

USCIS approved!

I was speeding home from work as usual on a rainy and cold Monday afternoon to pick up Julia and get her ready for her karate class tonight. The last thing on my mind was the possibility that the USCIS provisional approval for our I-800 might actually be waiting for me in our mailbox. But, there tucked in the middle of the junk mail and bills was the letter for which we have anxiously been waiting over the last three or so weeks. Funny, it seems longer. I had barely opened the envelope when Rob arrived home, and I could not contain my excitement as I showed it to him. It was finally here!

Earlier in the day, I had driven to our adoption agency on my lunch break to give them the notarized and apostilled copies of our new medicals and our latest local criminal background checks. I also included a few things for Aleksandar to be sent on to Bulgaria as Vesta has promised to get them to him. All in all, it was a good day on our adoption journey. I realize that another long period of waiting on a court date is now ahead of us, but  for the moment, I am enjoying the progress that we made today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One step closer

Last week, I had our medicals updated for Bulgaria and then notarized at our doctor's office before I left the building. This process took five minutes. I had actually expected it to take much longer since the original medicals that we had done for our dossier took over a month to get completed due to the fact that mistakes were made (meaning there had to be a do over) and it was difficult to get our doctor who is very busy together with the notary.

Today, we went to our local police department to get our criminal background checks updated. When we did this last year for our home study, the process took five minutes. Today, the process took most of the day. I had contacted our local police department yesterday to make sure that we could get the background checks done this morning and to make sure that they had a notary on staff who could notarize the documents. I was assured that they could do both. However, after Rob and I arrived at their offices this morning, I was told that they could do the background check but they could not notarize it. Yes, the notary was there, but the police captain had told the staff not to notarize the document. We were told instead to try and get a TBI (Tennessee's state version of the FBI) background check and they would notarize it.

The TBI background check could take weeks, and as always is the case with international adoption, we don't have weeks. Rob and I were determined that we were going to get this done today no matter what it took. First, we called the sheriff's department in our county to see if they would do the background check. They said they would, but they did not have a notary on staff. We then called our county clerk's office who told us that the police department should do notarize the document. A woman at the clerk's office put Rob on hold while she called the police department and discussed the matter with them. Rob was told to return to the police department to get the background check and to then get the document notarized at city hall after the police department affixed its stamp to the document. So, off Rob and I go to the police department again. I am happy to report that we now have our criminal background checks done and notarized. I am sad to report that I think if I had been a criminal who committed a felony that I would have gotten better service today at the police department.

Rob and I grabbed a quick lunch after this and then Rob headed to downtown Nashville to get the medicals and background checks certified at the county clerk's office and then apostilled at the Secretary of State's office. This packet of documents will go to our agency tomorrow morning who will then FedEx them to Bulgaria.

In addition to sending our documents to Bulgaria, our agency is also allowing us to send a package to Aleksandar for which I am very grateful. Vesta has assured our agency that they will make sure Aleksandar gets the package. In the package, I am putting a photo album, a new outfit and a small toy for Aleksandar since his birthday is coming up in March. We also plan on celebrating his birthday at our house even though he is not with us. Julia and I are going to bake a cake and invite Grandma and Grandpa over for the festivities.

March will be an exciting month for us for many reasons. March is also a time of celebration in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria, the people mark the sending off of winter and welcoming of spring by the holiday known as Baba Marta. Baba is the Bulgarian word for grandmother, and Marta is the Bulgarian word for March. One of the ways this holiday is celebrated in Bulgaria is by people wearing Martenitsa bracelets. The bracelets are made of red and white cotton or wool yarn twined together. These bracelets are usually worn and exchanged by Bulgarians beginning the first day of March until the first bud of spring is seen on the trees.

Rob, Julia and I will all be wearing our Martenitsa bracelets this March thanks to our friends Lisa and Jeff who made them for us. Jeff and Lisa were in Bulgaria last year during March and got to see this celebration of spring first hand.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Where we are now

Rob and I have been busy settling back into the normal routines of daily life at the Pachciarz household since we arrived back from Bulgaria, but a certain little Bulgarian boy is always on our minds and hearts. We have had more adoption paperwork to do since our return to the states, which has also been keeping us busy such as our USCIS form I-800 (immigration approval) and new medicals and background checks. USCIS sent us a letter yesterday stating that they had received our paperwork earlier in the month and are processing it. Our agency and other friends who have gotten this receipt letter have stated to us that it usually takes another two weeks before the approval arrives. After the approval arrives, a copy of it will be wired to the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria and then begins our wait for a court date.

In the meantime, Rob and I will be taking Julia to the main post office in Nashville to get her passport paperwork done. She is so very excited about traveling to Bulgaria and seeing her brother for the first time. I am hoping that Julia's presence will help with the bonding between us and our little boy and will help him to feel more at ease after we leave the orphanage. Julia is also great with kids younger than she is so I know that she will be teaching her little brother all sorts of new things as soon as they meet. I also wanted Julia to go for another reason. I want her to experience what life is like in another country. I want her to see the similarities between our country and Bulgaria and the differences. I want her to be a part of our son's story.

In other news, I am excited  to report that some very dear friends and my younger sister are planning a "baby" shower for me in the near future. I have begun registering at Target for all the things that I think we will need once our little one gets home such as sippy cups, toddler feeding utensils and clothing. The clothing did make me a little sad when I realized that according to the height and weight charts our little boy who will be four next month is probably wearing 18-24 months since he only weighs about 21 pounds and is 30 inches tall. But, I know this will change quickly after he is home in a loving and nurturing environment and after we have his palate repaired.

The last thing I wanted to let you know before I end this post is that our little one now has a new name and it is Aleksandar! It is from the Greek and it means "defender of men." Rob and I have always loved the name Alexandar, but since my husband is Polish we decided to use the Eastern European spelling of the name. We also thought that was fitting since our little boy is from another Eastern European country. We have also decided to keep our little boy's Bulgarian first name, which I will be able to share with you after we pass court.